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South America » Peru
September 15th 2008
Published: September 15th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

This entry is overdue, and I apologize for possibly causing anyone to worry!! We didn't have internet access almost the entire last week in Peru, and after I got home (yes, I'm home now) i was trying to adjust and just haven't had a chance to blog.

So, anyway. Our Travels. We had a very bittersweet final day at the orphanage. (more about that in a different entry) Then, we embarked on a five day journey of exploration through the southern part of Peru. Our first stop was Macchu Piccu, but to get there, we first had to get to Lima from Huancayo, which is a winding 8 hour bus ride. We opted to take the night bus so we could save daylight and get some sleep, and even paid a little extra for the higher class seats, which promised us more leg room, fluffy recliner seats and airconditions/pressurized cabin. However, this was a big fat lie. The bus line, Cruz del Sur, is generally the nicest and most reliable of the travel bus lines so we had no reason to doubt that the upper class was better. What we instead found was teeny, tiny little seats in a teeny
the view from the topthe view from the topthe view from the top

overlooking machu piccu from the top of mt. machu piccu
tiny little compartment. there was no overhead storage space so all our bags had to hang out on the floor around our legs. and to make matters worse, once the guy in front of me reclined his seat, i was effectively locked into place. I couldn't move my legs at all for the entire ride. And there was no air conditioning. It got so hot and humid in this compartment that the windows and walls started dripping with condensation. It was nauseating, and disgusting, and really really claustrophobic-y. uggh. But they did get us safely to Lima, where we had booked a flight to Cuzco, in order to avoid the 24 hour bus ride, only to find that the flight had been cancelled altogether. Apparently LAN airlines is known for randomly cancelling flights. So we were able to get on a later flight, which put us in the airport for roughly 8 hours. And with our luck, we quickly realized the airport was under intenst reconstruction which meant constant ear-shattering jack hammering and squealing. for eight hours. our ears and bodies were still vibrating hours after we left. But the flight went well, and quickly, and was only an hour
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mountain climbing.
instead of 24, which made the brain breaking noise worth it.

Cuzco was a beautiful city, but very, very different from Huancayo or Lima. Where Huancayo was dirty and rural and run down, Cuzco is clearly a tourist center. The spanish influence on the architecture is apparent, and the main square is kept very clean. the streets are coble stone, and it had a distinctly european feel to it. there were white people everywhere, which caught us off guard since we were the only white people we ever saw in Huancayo. And people were speaking English everywhere. When i first heard it, I was very proud of myself because I thought I was simply understanding Spanish really well, rather than hearing English. Wow. We stayed here for two nights in a hostel, and went to Machu Piccu then white water rafting.

Macchu Piccu was breathtaking. It took us forever to get there. We had to catch a van by 6 AM that took us to the train about 1.5 hours away. then we took the train another 2 hours to Aquas Caliente, where we got on a bus for the last 30 mins into the mountains. It was
White water raftingWhite water raftingWhite water rafting

thankfully, we actually got safety gear for this adventure!
like we were driving to the top of the world. We were driving through the clouds. We were supposed to meet up with our English speaking tour guide, but there was a lot of confusion and Megan and I were lost while the guide wandered around asking clearly hispanic people if they were "Maah-gin Handersone" (a very white name). And after a very loud announcement for Maagin, we found our group. The ruins themselves were not nearly as amazing as the location of them. Built on a mountain, and replicating the surrounding mountains, with clouds floating in the midst. It was like something out of a fantasy novel. What i found sad, though, was that hundreds and thousands of people tour these ruins and are allowed to walk in and on them. After our tour, we decided to climb Mount Macchu Piccu, which actually had stairs leading all the way to its peak. Not smooth, even stairs, but crumbling rock stairs, at times so steep it was more like a ladder. After roughly an hour and a half, we made it to the top. It was an intense climb, but the view was amazing. there aren't even words that would
The Dune Buggy. The Dune Buggy. The Dune Buggy.

death ride machine.
come close to describing the view. Macchu Piccu looked like a village for ants from that high up. it was beautiful. shocking. inspiring. surreal.

The next day, we went white water rafting, and unlike our adventure into the jungle, we got plenty of safety gear including wet suits, life vests, and helmets, and endless safety lectures from our guide. We did class 3 rapids, which was really fun, but i could have definitly handled a little more intense of a ride. It was great though. and when we finished, numb and shivering, we were greated on the shore with hot coffee and coca tea. Plus a delicious hot meal of guess what, chicken and rice. (ALL we have eaten in Peru has been chicken and rice. sericously, every single meal) When we got back to Cuzco, we got on another bus for the 16 hour ride to Ica.

We got into Ica in the morning. This was supposed to be an oasis in the jungle. hot, sunny, luxurious. It was cold and cloudy. humid and sticky. and dirty, dirty, dirty. there were shanty towns and run down buildings everywhere. it didnt even look inhabited. but we took a
Sitting on a Sand DuneSitting on a Sand DuneSitting on a Sand Dune

check out the sand stuck to us...it was literally everywhere.
quick 10 minute cab to Huacachina where we would stay and sandboard. the hammocks we were hoping to camp in turned out to be in the middle of a junk yard and not nearly as glamorous as we had pictured, so we opted for a hostel. It was weird because it felt like Daytona Florida on spring break. Young white college kids were everywhere. all the hostels had pools and bars. 24 hour liquors stores (a first so far in Peru, as it is predominately catholic and frowns on drinking). We booked a sandboarding trip through our hostel and were taken out on the dunes in a giant dune buggy. It was the craziest ride ever. the driver was driving like a mad man, speeding, swerving, hitting jumps, dumping us straight down. like a really sketchy, scary, unstable roller coaster ride. but it was fun. crazy scary fun. the boarding was much harder than i thought it would be. i expected to be good, given my snowboarding skills and all, but the boards had velcro bindings and whenever i tried to turn, the velcro gave and my feet slipped out. plus the edges weren't sharp at all, rather like 2
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Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru
inches think and splinterign wood. But it was fun and dirty. we had some amazing crashes. Especially megan who tried to 'sled' down a steep dune and had one of the worst wrecks of the. everyone within eyesight gave out a huge, "oooooh" on impact. pretty amazing. And sand was everywhere. i mean everywhere. still cleaning sand out of my ears. Really crazy dirty scary fun. well worth it. the next day, we boarded a bus for the 5 hour ride to Lima... and then home.

the bus to Lima was very sketchy, and we should have just paid the extra soles and taken Cruz del Sur, but we didnt. the bus was the scariest yet. going like 100 mph down the highway, swerving and passing and honking. plus picking up people on the side of the road, and dropping people off on the side of the road. all illegal for buses in Peru. Anyway, we should have known better. At one point, i felt my bag being pulled under my seat, but i thought it was the velocity of the speeding bus, readjusted and thought nothing of it. When we got to Lima, I stood up to get my other bag, which had been right above my head, while i was awake the entire time, to find it had been stolen. Luckily, i still had my money camera card passport... But not one souvenir or gift for anyone. and one of my coats and my dirty towel (oooh jokes on them for that one) and some other stuff was gone. disapeared. I freaked out a little, and even cried a little (rare for me) which only became more frustrating as the police and bus personell watched me mildly interested but completely disattached. unwilling to help. this sitution is common and routine. and they cant slash wont do anything. So, broken and angry, we got a cab to Lydia's house, our first stop in Peru, and our last stop in Peru. and to add insult to injury, the cab driver who had been the only one showing compassion at the bus station and parentally herded us into his cab, ripped us off big time, charging us 26 soles instead of 10. The volunteers and Lydia were great. One even took me to a market to try to scrape together some gifts for the family. and they fed us and gave us a bed, and helped us get a cab at 3 am to the airport. concerned for our safety, Lydia and her husband even escorted us to the airport.

When we finally boarded the plane, i realized that i was in fact ready to go home. Megan and I ended up getting routed to different cities and didn't see each other until meeting up in Denver. I have never been so relieved to see someone. my luggage got lost, but i now have it back. and no, i do not regret anything. it was all worth it. Peru: Great Success.

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16th September 2008

Oh my Jana.
Jana- I laughed out loud through most of that post. I love how I can see it all, and feel all of it. Where as..most people are probably not as capable. I love how you guys bragged to me about getting luxury seats and....hahaha that was freakin funny. Im again sorry about your souveys. That irritates me beyond everything. I pray for you. LOVE...you know..me
17th September 2008

best of luck
I will miss reading your blog. I hope you come back to Peru. best of luck
24th September 2008

I was just on the web and came across your blog! I actually was in Machu Piccu in March. I was on my exchange in Ecuador and one of the club families invited me to go to Peru with them. It was an amazing trip and after reading all of your descriptions I could totally relate! Sounds like you had an eventful trip but successful! Thanks for posting it out there for others to read!

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